Nathalie Tommerup Bendsen

Nathalie Tommerup Bendsen is a postdoctoral research fellow at Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen. She has a MSc in human nutrition and has worked within the area of nutrition research for the last 4 years, conducting human dietary intervention studies as well as GCP trials testing weight loss drugs.

Her master thesis revealed how low-fat dairy product may advantageously be included in a weight loss diet, since the calcium in these products will bind some of the fat in the diet, whereby the fat ends up in the toilet instead of on the belly. Nathalie presented these results in the BBC program 'The Truth About Food', as well as on Danish television and in Danish newspapers.

Nathalie’s PhD research was also within the nutrition area. She examined the health effects of consumption of dietary trans fatty acids by performing a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and by conducting a 6-month dietary intervention trial in postmenopausal women. In this study, the participants were exposed to trans fat or a control fat, and examined for a range of cardiovascular risk factors. The project concluded that intake of trans fat increases the risk of heart disease, presumably by increasing the ratio of LDL- to HDL-cholesterol in plasma, and by inducing low-grade systemic inflammation.

Beer, belly and body weight
There is a wide-spread belief that drinking beer promotes abdominal fat deposition, a phenomenon popularly referred to as ‘beer belly’. However, the scientific evidence supporting this belief appears to be somewhat limited. Observational studies examining the association between beer consumption and measures of general obesity, such as body mass index (BMI), or indices of abdominal fat, such as waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), have shown inconsistent results. Yet, significant associations may be overlooked in individual studies due to relatively small sample sizes and thereby insufficient statistical power. Therefore, we will perform a systematic review of the available literature combined with a quantitative meta-analysis, which may prove a powerful tool to evaluate and quantify the effect of beer consumption on development of obesity.

Increased body weight, and especially increased abdominal adiposity, is well known to be positively associated with risk of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is therefore of utmost importance to clarify if consumption of beer in fact promotes adiposity. To further elaborate on the ‘beer belly’ phenomenon, the systematic review will be combined with a thorough review of the literature addressing putative lifestyle and physiological factors that may explain or substantiate the findings of the meta-analysis.